Eagle County pot dispensaries mobilize as vote looms | AspenTimes.com

Eagle County pot dispensaries mobilize as vote looms

Lauren Glendenning
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Vail Daily fileEagle County voters will cast ballots next month on whether they think dispensaries in unincorporated Eagle County, such as Tree Line Premier Dispensary in Eagle-Vail, should stay open.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. – Medical marijuana dispensary owners throughout Eagle County are mobilizing to try and convince Eagle County voters to vote “yes” on ballot issue 1B.

Dispensary owners and employees have formed EMMBA, the Eagle Medical Marijuana Business Alliance, in an effort to get everyone from their patients to everyday residents to understand why the alliance believes medical marijuana shops should continue to operate locally.

Eagle County’s ballot issue 1B will ask voters whether medical marijuana businesses should be allowed to continue to operate in unincorporated Eagle County, subject to regulations as determined by the Board of County Commissioners.

“I think it’s a little bit scary that (medical marijuana) was voted on 10 years ago, and now they’re trying to ban them,” said Tia David, manager at Rocky Mountain High dispensary in Edwards.

The Eagle County Commissioners could have voted to ban dispensaries outright but chose to let voters decide Nov. 2. The towns of Vail, Avon and Gypsum have banned medical marijuana shops. The town of Eagle hasn’t voted on the matter and currently has one shop operating in town, although the town rejected an application from the Sweet Leaf Pioneer dispensary to expand its shop last month.

The town of Minturn also has a ballot question Nov. 2, asking whether voters should ban the businesses.

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EMMBA is hosting a voter registration drive tonight at Paddy’s in Eagle-Vail, where they’ll serve free food and beer and help people register to vote online. The deadline to register to vote in time for the Nov. 2 election is Monday.

“We decided we would pull together for the election,” said John Guarisco, a volunteer at the New Hope Wellness Center in Edwards.

Kim Barbieri, owner of the New Hope Wellness Center, said the group will be posting signs around the county encouraging people to vote yes on 1B.

Barbieri also said the New Hope Wellness Center has a radio advertisement, and each of the businesses in EMMBA have changed their print and radio advertisements to include the group’s new slogan, “Remember to vote, keep your center afloat.”

Bryan Swanton, owner of the Tree Line Dispensary in Eagle-Vail, is a big asset for the group since he sits on the state rule-making committee for House Bill 1284, the bill that regulates the medical marijuana industry in the state. Swanton helps relay a lot of information back to the local dispensaries to make sure everyone knows the laws and continues to follow them, which is a big reason why the group formed aside from the election, Guarisco said.

As of Saturday, EMMBA still hadn’t registered with the Secretary of State’s campaign finance office as a political committee. State law requires groups of two or more people or organizations who support or oppose a ballot issue or ballot question to report expenditures and activities to the state.

lglendenning@vaildaily.com